Last night I had my first meeting as chair of the advisory board of The Quilliam Foundation, the counter-terrorist think tank. I explained to the distinguished gathering of university professors, clerics and editors that I don’t usually describe myself as ordinary. But with radicalisation rising so drastically within Muslim communities, with Britain under the highest terror alert and facing home grown suicide bombers, it’s important that the much talked about silent majority become less silent.
The many people like me who are privately appalled when we see fanatical extremists polluting our media with their awful threats to the way we live are increasingly going to be viewed as part of the problem. Unless the public, the media, our friends, colleagues and neighbours know that we are as appalled, as worried as they about the rise of Islamism, we are not helping.
That’s one of the reasons I took on this role. People have been speaking out supposedly in my name and I was doing nothing about it. It’s always going to be more headline grabbing for someone to say Britain will one day become an Islamic state than for someone to say: “Actually I am pretty content with how my country treats me – I go to work, come home to my house and family and help my children grow.” In that context, we are all pretty ordinary and thank god for that.
We need to celebrate ordinariness, promote ordinariness. The safety of our cities and relations between communities currently being exploited both by the BNP and the Islamists needs us to proudly claim how ordinary we – of all faiths and none – really are.